'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, January 14th, 2015
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
January 14, 2015
Guest: Isabelle Wilkerson, Laura Haim, Robert McFadden, Dan Diaz
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Steve, how many pouches are you personally
STEVE KORNACKI, "UP" HOST: I have sewn thousands of pouches, Lawrence. As
you know, cross-stitching has been my hobby for years.
O`DONNELL: Well done. Thank you very much, Steve.
KORNACKI: All right.
O`DONNELL: Tonight, we have video of the man who drew the cartoon for the
new "Charlie Hebdo" cover, explaining how he created what instantly became
their biggest selling cover ever.
And French police are now searching for a new suspect in the "Charlie
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police have identified a fourth suspect --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One week after the attack in Paris.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- in the shooting of a police officer, and the attack
in the kosher supermarket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigation is yielding new suspects daily.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claiming
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Claims it organized the Kouachi brother`s attack on
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Revenged for the Prophet Muhammad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This video actually adds more questions than it
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m still not convinced of AQAP`s involvement in this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are they just exploiting a loan wolf operation?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ISIS releases a new propaganda video, praising the
Paris attacks, urging followers to carry out more attacks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ramping up the French military response to support
operations against ISIS in Iraq.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI has filed charges against an Ohio man --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inspired by ISIS to attack the U.S. Capitol and those
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is precisely what they worry about most.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a kind of lone wolf attack.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Response to "Charlie Hebdo" to this first printing is
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s the most sought after magazine in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to buy this one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very important for the freedom of speech.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sold out. "Charlie Hebdo" prints a record-setting 3
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are calling it insulting, offensive,
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sparking concerns of possible additional attacks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re sticking it at you. Is that something that`s
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think extremists need an excuse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The threat endures. People are still very much on
O`DONNELL: Tonight, the FBI says they stopped a planned attack on the
United States capitol by a 20-year-old Islamic State sympathizer from Ohio.
Christopher Lee Cornell was arrested today after buying two assault rifles
and 600 rounds of ammunition in Iowa. Federal officials say they have been
watching him since August when he posted pro-Islamic State messages on
social media. The FBI says that he planned to set off pipe bombs at the
Capitol and shoot people as they fled the building.
In France tonight, police are looking for a possible new accomplice. In
last week`s attacks, according to a French newspaper, police say the
accomplice may have driven Amedy Coulibaly to the kosher grocery store
where he killed four people and held hostages for several hours before he
was killed by the police attack on that kosher grocery store.
These are new images from inside that kosher store during the standoff.
And in a new 11-minute video, al Qaeda in Yemen officially claimed
responsibility for last week`s attack on "Charlie Hebdo." In the video,
one of the al Qaeda leaders said they chose the target and created and
financed the plan under the order of Ayman al-Zawahiri and the guidance of
Anwar al Awlaki, who was killed in 2011. The video called the Kouachi
brothers, quote, "Heroes of Islam" and called the attack on the kosher
store a gift from god.
U.S. government officials have authenticated that video. Cherif Kouachi
told a French TV station shortly before he was killed that he was on a
mission for al Qaeda.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHERIF KOUACHI: We`re telling you that we are the prophet`s defenders
peace and blessings be upon him, and that I, Cherif Kouachi, was sent by
Yemen`s Al-Qaeda. OK?
IGOR SAHIRI, REPORTER: Yes, yes.
KOUACHI: So, I went there and it was Anwar Al-Awlaki who financed me.
SAHIRI: And how long ago was this?
KOUACHI: Before he was killed.
SAHIRI: So you came back to France not long ago?
KOUACHI: No, a long time ago, during the secret years. Don`t worry. I
know how to do things.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Islamic State also released a video today praising the
Paris attacks and vowing more attacks.
Joining me now from Paris is MSNBC`s Ronan Farrow.
Ronan, what do we know about this new suspect that the police suspect might
have been involved?
RONAN FARROW, MSNBC: So, Lawrence, we`ve been trying to get clear answers
from the police all night on this. They`re not telling us a name right
now, but it seems clear that they have a name or at least some form of
identification for a specific individual. They found while raiding a house
in the suburbs, a house apparently rented by Amedy Coulibaly. You may
remember, he was the individual behind the attacks at the kosher market,
killed four people in that attack.
Coulibaly left behind a stash of weapons at his house. Police now saying
they believe it could have been a safe house. There`s speculation in the
French media that this individual they`ve ID`ed could be in Syria at this
point. We can`t confirm that yet.
But that`s what we`re hearing. This is developing very fast. The police
have just put this out, Lawrence.
One thing that we are hearing is a lot of praise from the community here in
France for the quality of the police operation. People telling me on the
streets everywhere throughout this that it`s been comprehensive. Next up
is to follow the money and the source of those supplies they found in that
O`DONNELL: And, Ronan, today, we have the Islamic State praising the
attacks and vowing more violence. What is the reaction in Paris that
you`re picking up about that? Is there a sensation that Paris continues to
live under an eminent threat of violence?
FARROW: You know, Lawrence, it`s a city finally moving on and returning to
normalcy in some ways, but also a city very much on edge. We`ve now talked
to several of the "Charlie Hebdo" staffers behind the new issue and all of
them are under intense security guard. I was at the office earlier, it`s
surrounded by guards. Obviously, anyone associated with "Charlie Hebdo"
very much under threat.
But people all around this city are feeling that. In Jewish communities,
people are talking about leaving. Obviously, the numbers over the last few
years show that it`s been building but it`s at a peak now from the
conversations we`ve had here. In Muslim communities, people very much on
edge about Islamaphobia.
So, still, very, very tense here. And that`s been somewhat exacerbated by
news today that there`s more of a crackdown on hate speech, on the kinds of
things that are leading to a lot of these fears, Islamaphobia, as I
mentioned, but still more and more arrests from the police, the justice
ministry specifically laying out a rationale for cracking down even more to
make sure there`s no anti-Semitic speech in this city right now. There`s
The police gearing up and the people here waiting for more, still tense in
a lot of ways, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And, finally, Ronan, before you go, the release of the new
"Charlie Hebdo" magazine today, 3 million copies sold out. Were there long
lines of people at newsstands waiting to buy this?
FARROW: Around the block, from first thing in the morning, they initially
upped the order to 3 million. Bear in mind, this is a small, satirical
magazine that had a circulation of 60,000 before this. Even with the 3
million, Lawrence, those sold out within moments. We saw copies on eBay
for huge sums. Some of those sums, maybe symbolic, not actually what
people will be paying. But still, a clear statement there, this was very
I interviewed one of the writers in those offices. They were exhausted
after producing this new issue and they told me they`re going to keep
producing more issues. They`ll consider perhaps even going beyond the
extra 2 million that they`ve already publicly announced they`ll print.
O`DONNELL: Ronan Farrow, thank you very much for joining us from Paris
tonight. Thank you.
Joining me now, Laura Haim, White House correspondent for Canal Plus, and
Robert McFadden, an expert on terrorist movements in the Middle East and
senior vice president of the Soufan Group.
Laura, first of all, to the release of the new edition of "Charlie Hebdo"
today, what is your sense of how that was greeted in France and in Paris
LAURA HAIM, CANAL PLUS: Lawrence, everyone wanted to have "Charlie Hebdo"
today. It`s something that people are going to keep in their home and
they`re going to frame it. It`s the symbol of freedom of the press. It`s
the symbol of a lot of things.
But what is fascinating for me as French citizen is to see that "Charlie
Hebdo" before the attacks, it was a small newspaper, it was a little bit
like in New York, 60,000, 70,000 print, and they were really having a hard
time to publish "Charlie Hebdo", and then now, everyone if the world knows
And it was quite interesting, because they did a press conference and they
spoke a lot of the media reporters. They have now communication director.
They didn`t have before the money to pay for a communication director.
They have someone in charge of crisis management. They made a lot of jokes
before about crisis management.
So, they became some thing and there were not quite used to that. And the
story is going to see how they`re going to use this popularity, in what
happened when all of them lost their friends.
O`DONNELL: Yes, I think there`s enormous amount of pressure on what they
do next week. This week, there was a lot of pressure, but next week, how
they follow this up is going to be fascinating.
Robert McFadden, al Qaeda in Yemen taking credit for the attacks. What`s
your reaction to that?
ROBERT MCFADDEN, SOUFAN GROUP: Well, I have to admit, I`ve been skeptical
from the beginning. But looking at what we have right now, they had an
official statement from Al Malahem, their media wing, and claiming
responsibility in support, in direct support. You had the brothers --
O`DONNELL: Do they have any record of falsely claiming that they`ve done
something out there like this that they really aren`t involved --
MCFADDEN: Indeed they do. A number of times. In fact, the biggest --
O`DONNELL: So, that`s why you have pause over this, just when they claim
MCFADDEN: Exactly. 2010, for example, the UPS air crash they claimed
responsibility, but they had nothing to do with it.
But with the brothers also claiming to the witnesses that we`ve heard that
it`s an AQAP operation, at the very least that organization shows it`s
still out there, that it still has an external mission, external operations
branch, at least. However, facts will tell whether perhaps it was direct
support, indirect, inspirational or a legacy operation.
O`DONNELL: And what difference does it make, whether it was just
MCFADDEN: Not a lot, in some ways, because at the end of the day, it`s not
so much group affiliation, it`s the ideology that`s driving these
operations outside the conflict zones, whether it`s a lone wolf or wolf
Now, I will say, however, if there are indications there was some direct
support, communications, whether money or tasking, it could, and I
emphasize that perhaps it could mean that the external operations branch of
al Qaeda in Yemen has switched tacks. Now, that`s not to say it won`t
still attempt to carry out the big attacks using explosives for example
against the aviation industry, because we have no information that al Qaeda
core or its affiliate in Yemen have stood down on its desire to do external
O`DONNELL: You`re analysis -- your group`s analysis said what they`re
interested in now is the spectacular reaction, as -- not so much the
spectacular event, like taking down the World Trade Center, but the
spectacular reaction you get from what was a smaller event.
MCFADDEN: Yes, sure. I mean, you have here the classic low density/very
high impact operation. So, you have the old spectacular, which was al
Qaeda core`s calling card. But now, you have such a tremendous reaction
from just less than a handful of individuals in doing what happened in
O`DONNELL: Laura Haim, your reaction -- what is your sense of the way the
French people are receiving the news of -- from say the Islamic State,
congratulating the terrorists on doing this and then promising more to
HAIM: People are extremely worried. For instance, in my channel, you have
bodyguards looking at some personalities who are making jokes about satire
political aspects of the story. What I want to tell you that might be
interesting for your viewers is during the investigation, people are
finding out that there were probably five or six young kids, people who met
each other in that suburb of Paris, they gathered together. It was called
the cell of (INAUDIBLE). They lived in a district in Paris.
Among those people you have the two brothers, you have also Amedy
Coulibaly, you have also the woman who is now apparently in Syria. You
have more people. But apparently, there was six.
And it`s not a very sophisticated cell. It`s very simple cell like you
have at this moment in France and other countries in Europe, those people
are desperate. They want to try to do something. They`re radicalized as
we spoke in the past days on your show. And that`s going to be really,
really difficult, not to acknowledge that it`s simple, and it can strike
O`DONNELL: Laura Haim, thanks for joining us tonight and, thank you,
Laura, for helping us out with a translation that we`re going to use later
in the program. Thank you for that.
And, Robert McFadden, thank you for joining us tonight.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, is Islam`s problem with blasphemy?
And later, Brittany Maynard`s husband joins me to tell us about the next
people he`s taking in the right of people to choose the right to die with
O`DONNELL: Military officials raised the threat level at the air base that
Vice President Biden frequently uses in Delaware after what appears to be
five separate incidents of people probing the security at that base.
Counterterrorism sources say people appeared to be surveying the base
Monday and Tuesday along the perimeter and the main gate.
Up next, Mustafa Akyol will explain Islam`s problem with blasphemy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZARINE KHAN, SON FACES TERRORISM CHARGES: We have a message for ISIS, Mr.
Baghdadi and his fellow social media recruiters -- leave our children
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That`s the mother of Mohammed Khan yesterday in Chicago. Her
19-year-old son, Mohammed, is now facing federal charges of attempting to
provide material support to a terrorist organization after being
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KHAN: The venom spewed by these groups and the violence committed by them
find no support in the Koran and are completely at odds with our Islamic
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Mustafa Akyol, that`s the wrong title, I
don`t have it in front of here -- "Islam Without Extremes." I have to read
that off the screen.
Sorry, Mustafa. Thank you very much for joining us.
I want to first of all get your reaction to what that mother just said
where she said that these radicalizing lessons that people are learning
online are not Islam at all.
MUSTAFA AKYOL, AUTHOR: I agree with her and I join her emotions. There
are a lot of Muslims in the world who are traumatized but what groups like
ISIS or al Qaeda are doing, because they first attack innocent people, not
Muslims, for example, the Paris case. But they also have turned young
Muslim men into bombs and weapons. So, they kill those in different ways.
So, she was very right to really condemn what they were doing, as the great
majority of Muslims in the world are doing.
O`DONNELL: You have an op-ed piece today in "The New York Times" entitled
"Islam`s Problem with Blasphemy", and it`s right beside Tom Friedman`s
column. I want to read you one line from Tom Friedman`s column in reaction
to what you`ve said there, where he says, "Islam has no Vatican, no single
source of religious authority. There are many Islams today."
Is that part of the problem, that woman here in the United States can
firmly believe what she believes, that there is absolutely no authority to
be found anywhere in Islamic teaching for what these terrorists are doing,
and then these terrorist groups can insist that they are avenging the
prophet when they go and kill these cartoonists?
AKYOL: Well, that is part of the problem, because Islam is not like
Catholicism. It`s more like Protestantism. That there are texts and
everybody interprets those texts. There was maybe a central authority,
which is the caliphate, but it`s got destroyed after World War I.
So yes, there are some radical groups who have radical interpretations and
other Muslims like me or like that woman or maybe a billion Muslims out
there who disagree with them, just disagree and condemn, but maybe we don`t
do much. That is precisely why I actually tried to argue against those
groups by looking at their teachings, especially on this issue of
I -- in my article in "The New York Times," I said, well, let`s just
question this idea of punishing blasphemy. It`s not in the Koran, it was
just in the writings of medieval scholars. But we can question them
because those medieval scholars thought in the medieval context. We live
in a different world right now.
In the same way that Christianity had some inquisition or crusaders but
Christianity has gone beyond those dark ages. Today, we have Muslims who
live in the dark age. But others think that we should move away. And to
do this, we should condemn them and understand the teaching and ideology,
and that`s what I tried to do when I wrote against punishing blasphemy.
O`DONNELL: What will it take, Mustafa, for people to move away from what
they`re reading in Sharia and move towards the Koran, where as you point
out in "The Times" today, does not have any death penalty for blasphemy or
anything like it?
AKYOL: Well, first of all, when we speak of Sharia or Islamic law, Muslims
think it is a god-given entity, whereas the reality is that the Sharia is
yes, rooted in the Koran, but it is how the Koran was interpreted by
medieval Muslim scholars. Some scholars said women should be dressed with
everything covered but the eyes and that became the norm. But we can
requestion that today and define a much more modern dress code.
Regarding blasphemy, there is no verse in the Koran that says blasphemers
should be punished. And actually, there`s one verse that I quoted in the
article which says to Muslims, if you hear god`s verses being mocked, do
not sit with those people unless they engage in a different discourse. I
mean, it just says, just do not sit with those people who mock your faith.
It doesn`t say go and attack them, it doesn`t go and censor them.
So, we should question Sharia by even looking at the original source of
Islam, which is the Koran.
O`DONNELL: Mustafa Akyol, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
AKYOL: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: If you read one article about this today, make it "The Islam`s
Problem with Blasphemy" by Mustafa Akyol in "The New York Times." Very
important piece. He has much more to say than we had time for there.
Up next, Brittany Maynard`s husband joins me to explain the next step he`s
taking in the battle for people to choose to die with dignity.
And later, Isabelle Wilkerson will explain why tensions with African-
American communities and police might be more of a problem now in the North
than in the South.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRITTANY MAYNARD: (AUDIO GAP) life and what`s of value is to make sure
you`re not missing out. Seize the day. What`s important to you? What do
you care about? What matters? Pursue that. Forget the rest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, Brittany Maynard`s legacy.
A year ago, 29-year-old Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain
cancer and decided to move from her home state of California to Oregon to
take advantage of that state that allows terminally ill patients to choose
when and where they want to die. The world met Brittany in early October
of last year when she teamed up with right to die advocacy group Compassion
and Choices to share her story in a video which has been viewed almost 12
On November 1st, Brittany chose to end her life as he planned in her home
in Portland, Oregon, surrounded by close friends and family in what she
called her room of love. She wrote on Facebook that day, "Goodbye to all
my dear friends and family. Today is the day I`ve chosen to pass away with
dignity. In the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer
that has taken so much from me, but would have taken so much more."
In a video she filmed a few weeks before she passed away, Brittany said
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYNARD: My goal, of course, is to influence this policy for positive
change and I would like to see all Americans have access to the same health
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Brittany`s husband. Dan Diaz and Barbara
Coombs Lee, the president of Compassion and Choices, the organization that
helped Brittany spread her message.
Dan, first of all, I`m sorry for your loss and what you and your family
have gone through. Friend of mine went through brain cancer, so when she
talks about knowing what was coming, knowing what she didn`t want to go
through, that`s very powerful for those of us that know what that ending is
DAN DIAZ, BRITTANY MAYNARD`S HUSBAND: Yes, yes. The -- what Brittany was
facing leading up to the weeks of her death, the symptoms she had were
getting progressively worse. But what was just around the corner was the
reality that she would potentially lose her sight, go blind, become
And so knowing that she had the ability to control how much suffering she
would have to endure so that she could focus on the living and not be so
concerned with the dying part, the Death with Dignity option that was
available in Oregon was something that was very meaningful for her to have
O`DONNELL: And then she was also on her way to being completely unable to
communicate at a certain point, which was very important to her, wasn`t it?
That ability to communicate with you?
DIAZ: That`s right. Even before her surgery, which was on January 10th,
that was one of the biggest concerns she had, being trapped in her own
body. So leading up to that brain surgery, that was her primary question.
What are the chances that if something goes wrong in the surgery, I lose
the ability to communicate? So as the brain tumor was growing and her
symptoms were getting worse, that was one of the biggest fears that she
had. And every time that she had a seizure, she was unable to speak for 15
minutes, 20 minutes. And so each and every one of those seizures for her
O`DONNELL: And Barbara, your organization isn`t about advocating this
choice, that it`s about advocating the possibility of this choice.
BARBARA COOMBS LEE, COMPASSION AND CHOICES PRESIDENT: That`s right. We
think that people should have access to the choice. And from our
experience in Oregon, the data clearly shows that just having the choice is
of enormous comfort to people at the end of life. They get such peace of
mind. Such a sense of security.
Whether they use medication, whether they ingest the medication or not is
really -- it becomes kind of irrelevant because they`ve already experienced
the positive impact, the tremendous improvement on the quality of their
life and their outlook, just feeling as though they`re in control again,
they`re in control of their own destiny.
O`DONNELL: You know, my dear friend who I saw go through this has three
daughters. And his choice was to hang on as long as he possibly could.
O`DONNELL: Take every measure to be able to hold their hands as many days
as he could. But you -- Brittany didn`t have children. You didn`t have
O`DONNELL: It`s a different calculations in different cases. And what
strikes me about is just how clearly she was able to see and you were able
to see what the reality was in front of you and how you made that decision.
And the legal environment you made it in was incredibly important to allow
you to think clearly, wasn`t it?
DIAZ: Right. Yes. Because unfortunately, truth be told, behind the
scenes in California, you hear that this kind of happens any way.
DIAZ: Palliative care and hospice where once there`s morphine in the house
that a patient could but then there`s the story similar to Barbara Mancini,
another person working now with Compassionate and Choices, that you do run
a risk, and so -- where the family could be potentially be prosecuted. So
Oregon, the wisdom of the citizens to have this law, to have passed it 17
years ago, so that the family is protected, so that the patient can decide
for himself or herself, without endangering the ones that he or she loves.
So it was a difficult choice to up and move to Oregon in the middle of
everything that`s gone on, the chaos, dealing with a brain tumor. But as
soon as Brittany realized the death that left to its own device, that she
would have to suffer through, we all recognized that this is the right
thing to do. So that`s why we had to move.
O`DONNELL: Barbara, thank you very much for bringing this to our
Dan, thank you for joining us tonight. Thank you for what you`re doing
now. Again, very sorry.
DIAZ: Thank you. Thank you very much.
O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: Any California Democrat who is dreaming about challenging
California Attorney General Kamala Harrison in the race for Senator Barbara
Boxer`s Senate seat in 2016 has a big new problem. Senator Elizabeth
Today, Elizabeth Warren endorsed Kamala Harris in her bid to win Barbara
Boxer`s Senate seat. The senior senator from Massachusetts posted a letter
in support of Harris on her Web site and encouraged her supporters to
donate to Harris` campaign.
Senator Warner wrote, "I`m doing what I can to make sure Kamala Harris
makes it to the United States Senate in 2016."
I told you this thing is all over. Kamala Harris has this thing won. The
"Rewrite" is next.
O`DONNELL: For a week now, I`ve felt awkward and let you know that. To
put it mildly, when discussing the "Charlie Hebdo" cartoons. The cartoons
that got 20 people killed in France last week, including the three
terrorists who had to be killed in order to stop the killing.
From the start, I have told you the source of my discomfort is the fact
that this network, along with many other news media outlets, including "The
New York Times," will not show any of the cartoons that provoked all that
The lead story in today`s "New York Times" was about the new cover of
"Charlie Hebdo." The new cover or the first words in the most important
headline in "The New York Times" today and beside that headline is a
picture, but it is not a picture of the new cover. It is a picture of a
story that isn`t even on page one. It`s the picture of a story that`s on
It is an important and deeply moving picture of people in Jerusalem
attending the funeral of four hostages who were killed in Paris at that
kosher supermarket last week.
Now it is a haunting photograph full of pain, full of history. But the
only hint of hope being a beautiful blue sky. It adds something to our
comprehension of this tragedy that words cannot, that is why "The New York
Times" printed that photograph. It carries feelings that the words of "The
New York Times" do not. It supplements the words of the story in an
important way, a picture is often better than a thousand words and this one
is one of those pictures.
But there is no picture of the subject of the lead headline in "The New
York Times" today, the new cover of "Charlie Hebdo," because it is a
depiction of Mohammed. The editor of "The New York Times" said today, "We
do not normally publish images or other materials deliberately intended to
offend religious sensibilities."
Well, OK, you don`t normally do that. But what about when those cartoons
are the most news worthy cartoons in human history? What then?
CBS News has decided that the cartoons are too newsworthy not to show. So
has "The Washington Post." And online, whatever agonizing discussions
editors at many Web sites have had, they have ended up in many cases
deciding to show the cartoons. They`ve done that at the Huffington Post,
which does business around the world, and at several other Web sites.
Last night, Anderson Cooper told David Letterman that CNN has decided not
to show the cartoons out of fear, fear for the lives, especially the lives
of CNN`s foreign correspondents and producers.
You aren`t going to hear any outrage now from me about that decision. I`m
actually glad that it`s not mine to make. I wish I could tell you what I
would decide if I were responsible for the safety of everyone in a
worldwide news organization in a situation like this. But I will never be
in that position, and so any claim as to what I would do is absolutely
What I won`t do, what I don`t have the right to do is say, "Je Suis
Charlie," or hold up a sign saying "Je Suis Charlie." Or wear a button
saying "Je Suis Charlie."
Yesterday, the artist who drew the cartoon that was the front page news
today around the world explained himself as best he could. His words are
translated here by my previous guest, Laura Haim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RENALD "LUZ" LUZIER, CHARLIE HEBDO CARTOONIST (Through Translator): The
problem about being a cartoonist is that we draw because we do not speak
very well because we live in a complicated world. So we make small writing
to try to explain this complicated world, like we are kids. And then we
saw for a long time that to draw, to explain this complicated world will
make it easier and will protect us. It didn`t quite.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He then explained how he arrived at the idea for the new cover
of "Charlie Hebdo," which I urge you to see at the Huffington Post or
elsewhere online. And his explanation you will hear his thoughts about
what the people who killed his friends might have been like when they were
kids. You will hear him searching the way artists do for that connection
that touches us all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUZIER (Through Translator): Well, many cartoonists who like to draw
little men as we did when we were kids. And the people, the terrorists,
they were once kids that drew like us. Like all kids. I think that at
some point, they must have lost their humor. Perhaps they lost again those
child spirit that allows you to see the world with a little distance.
Because that is Charlie, seeing the world from a little distance.
So I drew telling myself "Je Suis Charlie." That was the idea I have in
mind, but it wasn`t enough and it was only a few left, the one and only
idea to draw Mohammed, "Je Suis Charlie." Then I looked, they were crying.
And then at the top I wrote "All is forgiven," and then I cried again. And
then that was the cover. We have found the cover. At least we had found
that cover and it was our cover.
It was on the cover the world wanted us to do. It was the cover that we
wanted to do. It wasn`t the cover the terrorists wanted us to do because
there is no terrorist there, only a man crying, a character crying, it is
I am sorry, I drew him again. But the Mohammed that we drew is a man
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: When he saw Mohammed crying, suddenly he believed he could feel
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUZIER (Through Translator): He cried. Yes, he cried. But you see, I
just want to tell you something, at the same time when I looked at it, it
also made me laugh. I cried but it made me laugh. And that`s the main
thing, is to do a cover that is funny. Maybe you don`t know that, it may
be a little less funny than usual. But you know, again, I want to tell you
I was at a ceremony, the (INAUDIBLE), for the three cops who lost their
lives in Sadat. And I also thought of all those people who are not
cartoonists who lost their lives, the people who were walking with me, with
us. I was thinking of Mustafa, our fact checker. He was a Muslim but he
was an atheist. Yes. He was an atheist. It exists.
I was also thinking of this cop on the bicycle, Ahmed. Ahmed who died. He
was a Muslim. Perhaps he didn`t like "Charlie," perhaps he didn`t care
about it. Or perhaps he found it funny. And then I thought, we are still
"Charlie." I am "Charlie." I am a cop. I am Jewish. But I am also
Muslim. Because the terrorist who attacked us want hatred amongst people.
They also want hatred towards the people that believes they are the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And finally, he told us his hopes for artists and journalists,
including "The New York Times" throughout the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUZIER (Through Translator): If we can sustain news agents, if we can
sustain papers, if through this news agents and papers we can sustain ideas
and all over the world we can sustain drawing for the world, at least in
France, and through the world, we really will have one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news from the Pentagon tonight, where they
just announced that they transferred five Yemeni prisoners from Guantanamo
today in what is the first transfer of detainees in 2015. Four prisoners
were sent to Oman and one to Estonia. Today, 122 detainees now remain at
Up next, Isabel Wilkerson will join me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Superintendent of the police of Chicago, Mr. O.W.
Wilson, said the other day that your civil rights tactics have aroused
hatred among Chicago white residents and are hampering the Negro`s
progress. What is your answer to that?
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., SCLU: Well, my answer is, this is totally
erroneous. Our civil rights efforts have not aroused efforts, they have
revealed hatred that already existed. There is no doubt about the fact
that there are many latent hostilities existing within certain white groups
in the north. We didn`t create it, we merely exposed it and brought it to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1966 when
he was 37 years old. If he were still with us, he would be celebrating his
86th birthday tomorrow. The holiday observance of his birthday is next
In an op-ed in "The New York Times," Isabelle Wilkerson writes, "The
groundswell of protests over police brutality in the closing days of 2014
when people dropped to the marble floor of Grand Central Terminal and shut
down the Brooklyn Bridge, blocked Lake Shore Drive in Chicago and chanted
"I Can`t Breathe" from Boston to Oakland, summoned ghosts not only of the
marches of the civil rights era, but of the larger forces that led to the
arrival of so many African-Americans in the big cities of the north and
west in the first place.
"A map of the largest protests, those first nights, and of the high profile
cases of police violence in recent months lit up like a map of the great
migration. New York, Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis, Philadelphia,
Washington, Los Angeles, Oakland. All of them a major receiving stations
of the movement. These were the places to which generations of African-
Americans fled to escape the state sanctioned violence their descendants
have not faces in the North and West."
Joining me now is Isabel Wilkerson, the author of "The Warmth of Other
Suns: The Epic Story of America`s Great Migration."
Isabelle, thank you very much for doing this. There`s a quote you have in
your "New York Times" piece, talking about -- and the important about both
the book and what you`re -- the point you`re making at the "Times" is, this
was -- these were immigrants.
You refer to the South as the old country for them, the way, you know, we
Irish talk about Ireland as the old country. And you quoted a woman from
Alabama in 1902, saying they just want to feel that security which other
ISABEL WILKERSON, PULITZER PRIZE WINNING JOURNALIST: One of the great
tragedies of the 20th century is that the influx of six million African-
Americans from the South to the North was misunderstood for what it was.
It was a search for freedom. It was the seeking of political asylum within
the borders of their own country. And yet these cities in the North were
not prepared for -- to absorb the influx of so many people who, truth be
told, you know, we have to say, did not look like the majority.
They were met with suspicion and hostility and not really understood for
what they were looking for.
O`DONNELL: Unlike those previous waves, they couldn`t Americanize their
names and suddenly --
WILKERSON: Make those senators angry.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And kind of grow up a little bit and have the next
generation be accepted.
WILKERSON: Well, on top of that, though, there were -- there were extreme
reactions to the arrival, meaning there were red lining of the
neighborhoods to which they had been quarantined, you might say. There
were restrictive covenants that meant that white property owners, even if
they wanted to sell to African-Americans, were prevented from doing so.
And then there was vociferous response or extreme violence, firebombings of
homes of African-Americans when they breached that de facto wall of
And so these were the ways in which people of different races were
separated and segregated and never got a chance to know one another.
O`DONNELL: And your historical perspective when witnessing what we`ve seen
in 2014 with this crisis in police relations in African-American
communities, what is it that you think you`re seeing?
WILKERSON: What I`m seeing is akin to a great tragedy because many of the
ancestors of those police officers were very likely immigrants who came
across the ocean, looking for the same thing that the ancestors of the
people that they are now policing often with extreme measures. They wanted
the exact same thing. And they never got a chance through the generations
to see how very much they had in common.
O`DONNELL: You make a reference to one of the pieces of video we`ve shown
on this show. There`s a guy who stops at a gas station, gets immediately
shot by a police officer.
O`DONNELL: After she`s shot, this young African-American man is saying,
what did I do wrong, sir?
O`DONNELL: And notice the "sir."
WILKERSON: Notice the sir. He`s in the South and he is a descendant of a
world, a cast system in which that was the way that you had to address the
upper cast, meaning white people, and also police officers. And that is
what is being told to the children of the current day. I mean, they`re
told that they have -- that they must be protected.
O`DONNELL: This is "the talk" that Eric Holder --
WILKERSON: The talk.
O`DONNELL: -- has talked about having with his father, that Bill de
Blasio, the mayor of New York has talked about having with his son. The
WILKERSON: This is the talk that is necessary to potentially save one`s
life. And this is the talk that has been given from the time of the old
country in the South and to the new world of the North.
O`DONNELL: And what does what we`ve seen change in the South tell us about
what we can hope for?
WILKERSON: Well, it`s interesting that the most high profile cases of
police brutality are occurring in the North. You`re looking at Ohio, where
these two individuals thinking of Tamir Rice and John Crawford were shot
and killed in an open carry state. And the case of Eric Garner. So when
you look in the South, you see that there actually have been prosecutions,
particularly in North Carolina and South Carolina. In two particular
cases, the one that you mentioned and the one of a motorist who was shot
after he had a car accident.
Those police officers were prosecuted. In one case, the police officer was
actually -- he lost his job, he was fired immediately. And on the other
case they`re both going through the courts now. In other words, there is
an attempt to bring justice in those cases.
O`DONNELL: Isabelle Wilkerson, your perspective is invaluable in these
things, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And you owe yourself
"The Warmth of Other Suns," Isabelle Wilkerson`s brilliant book. Thank you
very much, Isabelle. Chris Hayes is up next.
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